Leo Kraft: Chamber Works

Chamber Symphony #2 for 16 Instruments

Chamber Symphony #2 for 16 Instruments

The Garden of Memory for Harpsichord

Line Drawings, Flute and Percussion

Cummingsong for Tenor and 5 Instruments

Six Pieces for Violin with Piano Obbligato

By Leo Kraft

Leo Kraft

Leo Kraft (b.1922) is active as composer, educator, and author. After receiving degrees from Queens College and Princeton University, he joined the faculty of Queens College in 1947, and retired in 1989. While the bulk of his work consists of chamber music, he has written orchestral, piano, and vocal music as well. His compositions have been performed and recorded in the USA and abroad.

Six Pieces for Violin and Piano Obbligato

As the title implies, these pieces feature the violin, while the role of the piano is more than an accompaniment, but less than an equal partner, hence the term obbligato. Imagining the violin as a great actor capable of portraying many roles, I found a different kind of expressiveness in each piece. In the opening Cantilena the violin sings out, the piano providing a flowing background. In the more dramatic Capriccio the violin plays alone in a dramatic utterance. The spooky Ombre is played by violin pizzicato combined with the staccato notes of the damped piano strings. The keyboard instrument asserts itself somewhat in the Dialogo, sharing the melody with the violin. The reprise of the Capriccio takes on a different character with the support and comments of the piano. The lively fiddling is helped along by chords in the piano, which cannot resist joining in the fast-moving melody as the music races to its conclusion. The Six Pieces were written for Renee Jolles.

Line Drawings

Line Drawings was written for Paul Dunkel, who gave the first performance with Richard Fitz in 1972. The linear nature of the music suggested the title. The percussion part plays more than occasional comments; my aim was to make that part as melodic as possible, creating a partnership of the two instruments. Line Drawings consists of five short pieces of which the first, third, and fifth are played by the flute, while the alto flute sings in the second, and the piccolo pipes merrily in the canonic fourth.

The Garden of Memory

Paul Maynard was an outstanding performer and scholar in Renaissance and Baroque music. He was a major presence on the faculty of the Aaron Copland School of Music, and it is to his memory that this work for harpsichord (on which he performed so marvelously) is dedicated. The garden is the one that lies behind the Maynard's home, lovingly cultivated by his wife Drora Pershing, and in which he said that he had spent some of his happiest hours. The harpsichord piece evokes some of Mr. Maynard's musical interests, as imagined in the composers' mind and ear.


The poetry of e e cummings has delighted me since my student days, but only recently did I feel that I had the means to do justice to some of my favorite poems. I heard a tenor voice and a small group of instruments, which proved to be flute, oboe, violin, viola, and cello. My aim was to get beneath the surface of the elegant lines to the deeper meaning below.

Chamber Symphony #2, for Sixteen Instruments

The chamber symphony is a twentieth century invention, a work of symphonic dimensions for a relatively small ensemble. Chamber ensembles have attracted my attention throughout my career because they offer a wide range of expressive and coloristic possibilities. My second chamber symphony is indeed a symphony in the classical sense, which is to say that the work is highly developmental, spacious in gesture, and ambitious in scope.

While the general layout of the work is rather traditional, the musical content is of our time and place. The listener will soon recognize that together with sounds familiar from the earlier part of our era, there is an element of American popular music. The inclusion of a saxophone in the ensemble had something to do with that. The Chamber Symphony is scored for oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, trumpet, percussion, and three violins, three violas, three cellos, and one bass. Chamber Symphony #2 is dedicated to Mr. Raoul Ronson.

— Leo Kraft




the hours rise up putting off stars and it is


into the street of the sky light walks scattering poems

on earth a candle is

extinguished the city


with a song upon her

mouth having death in her eyes

and it is dawn

the world

goes forth to murder dreams…

i see in the street where strong

men are digging bread

and i see the brutal faces of

people contented hideous hopeless cruel happy

and it is day,

in the mirror

i see a frail




dreams in the mirror

and it

is dusk on earth


Thy fingers make early flowers of

all things.

thy hair mostly the hours love:

a smoothness which

sings, saying

(though love be a day)

do not fear, we will go amaying.

thy whitest feet crisply are straying.


thy moist eyes are at kisses playing,

whose strangeness much

says; singing

(though love be a day)

for which girl art thou flowers bringing?

To be thy lips is a sweet thing

and small.

Death, Thee i call rich beyond wishing

if this thou catch,

else missing.

(though love be a day

and life be nothing, it shall not stop kissing).


a wind has blown the rain away and blown

the sky away and all the leaves away,

and the trees stand. I think i too have known

autumn too long

(and what have you to say,

wind wind wind-did you love somebody

and have you the petal of somewhere in your heart

pinched from dumb summer?

O crazy daddy

of death dance cruelly for us and start

the last leaf whirling in the final brain

of air!)Let us as we have seen see

doom's integration...a wind has blown the rain

away and the leaves and the sky and the

trees stand:

the trees stand. The trees,

suddenly wait against the moon's face.


Spring is like a perhaps hand

(which comes carefully

out of Nowhere)arranging

a window, into which people look (while

people stare

arranging and changing placing

carefully there a strange

thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps

Hand in a window

(carefully to

and fro moving New and

Old things,while

people stare carefully

moving a perhaps

fraction of flower here placing

an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

Used with the permission of Live Right Publishing Corp. Copyright 1976 by George James Firmage.

Renee Jolles

Six Pieces for Violin with Piano Obbligato was written for Renee Jolles, who plays with Continuum, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and leads the Roerich String Quartet.

Christopher Oldfather

Christopher Oldfather plays with Parnassus, Cabrini Ensemble, and the Andreas Trio.

Paul Dunkel

Paul Dunkel was the co-founder of the American Composers Orchestra, of which he is Resident Conductor. He is also music director of the Westchester Philharmonic Orchestra.

Michael Lipsey

Michael Lipsey is director of the Talujon Percussion Quartet, and also leads the Percussion Ensemble at Queens College CUNY.

Mark Bleeke

Mark Bleeke is an internationally acclaimed tenor soloist, who has performed in the U.S., and Europe, both in opera and concert. He has also recorded a wide repertory.

Paul Hostetter

Paul Hostetter is music director of the Lyric Orchestra of New York and the New Jersey Youth Symphony.

George Rothman

George Rothman is the conductor of the Riverside Symphony Orchestra, and has recorded five CDs.

Recorded in LeFrak Hall, Queens College

Engineer/Producer for Chamber Symphony #2, Line Drawings, and “cummingsong”: Adam Abeshouse

Engineer for The Garden of Memory and Six Pieces: Rick Krahn

Editing for Six Pieces: Dana Perna

Six Pieces for Violin with Piano Obbligato, The Garden of Memory, “cummingsong”, and Chamber Symphony #2 published by Seesaw Music Corp., NY; Line Drawings published by General Music.

All compositions licensed by ASCAP.

Cover Design by Carol Lager.


Six Pieces for Violin and Piano Obbligato

1 Cantilena [2:11]

2 Capriccio [2:56]

3 Ombre [1:08]

4 Dialogo [3:38]

5 Ripresa del Capriccio [2:50]

6 Finale [2:17]

Renee Jolles, violin

Christopher Oldfather, piano

Line Drawings

7 q = 144 [1:52]

8 q = 66 (alto flute) [3:32]

9 Freely [3:20]

10 q = 132 (piccolo) [:48]

11 Freely; 180 [2:31]

Paul Dunkel, flute

Michael Lipsey, percussion

12 The Garden of Memory [8:06]

Christopher Oldfather, harpsichord


13 the hours rise up [3:28]

14 thy fingers make early flowers [3:15]

15 the wind has blown the rain away [2:44]

16 spring is like a perhaps hand [3:11]

Mark Bleekey, tenor

Sue Ann Kahn, flute s Marcia Butler, oboe

Deborah Wong, violin s Lois Martin, viola

Greg Heffelink, cello s Paul Hostetter, conductor

Chamber Symphony #2, for Sixteen Instruments

17 Allegro energico [5:35]

18 Adagio [7:11]

19 Vivace [2:59]

George Rothman, conductor

Total Time = 64:01